01-01-2014 - 31-12-2017

Il vulcano Etna


Un'emozione unica al mondo: visitare l'ETNA il vulcano attivo più alto d'Europa, scenari mozzafiato dove la natura si esibisce in tutto il suo splendore, la possibilità di visitare crateri e grotte vulcaniche. Escursioni che spaziano dall'acqua al fuoco e non mancherà' lo snack tipico della Sicilia . Le varie agenzie organizzano ogni giorno tour con jeep e mezzi 4x4 con  guide geologiche altamente specializzate.

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Il vulcano Etna
01-01-2014 - 31-12-2017

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Kremlin declassifies Kim Jong-un's letter to Putin

DPRK leader Kim Jong-un wrote a letter to President Putin. In the letter, Kim wrote about productive cooperation at the highest state level, Putin's aide Yuri Ushakov said.According to him, Kim Jong-un did not write anything about arranging a possible meeting with President Putin. The news about Kim Jong-un's letter to Putin was made public on June 14, when Putin had a meeting with chairman of the supreme legislative and executive body of the DPRK Kim Yong Nam.Putin invited Kim Jong-un to come for the Eastern Economic Forum, which is to take place this autumn, although the Russian president said that he would be glad to see the DPRK leader in Russia any time. Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, when on an official visit to North Korea, invited Kim Jong-un to come to Moscow, and the leader of the DPRK said that he would like to talk to Vladimir Putin in person.

Wed, 20 Jun 2018 13:21:00 +0300

Russia introduces additional duties on imports of US goods

The Russian government has decided to introduce "balancing measures" for goods imported from the United States. Russia will impose additional import duties on a number of goods that have an alternative on the Russian market, Maxim Oreshkin, the Minister of Economic Development said. "As long as the United States continues applying protective measures in the form of additional import duties on steel and aluminum and refuses to compensate losses to Russia, the Russian Federation will use its WTO right and introduce balancing measures against imports from the United States," said the minister. Additional duties are to be introduced "in the near future," the minister said. "They will be applied only to the products that have alternatives on the Russian market and will not show a negative influence on macroeconomic indicators," Oreshkin said.

Tue, 19 Jun 2018 18:10:00 +0300

Russia spends over $11 billion on 2018 World Cup

Russia has spent more than 680 billion rubles ($11.6 billion) to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, consulting company JLL said.According to the latest available assessment of the organizing committee, the final expenditure in April 2018 amounted to 683 billion rubles. The final costs exceeded the amount that planned to be spent in 2013 by 19 billion rubles.According to JLL, most of the funds - 437.8 billion rubles (71%) - was allocated from the state budget. The bulk of the investment accounted for sports facilities that totalled Russia 265 billion rubles.On average, every stadium received the investment of 20.3 billion rubles. For the 2018 World Cup,  12 stadiums in 11 cities and 95 training grounds were built and repaired, the company said.The costs for transport infrastructure amounted to 228 billion rubles. In particular, the Platov airport in Rostov-on-Don was built from scratch, while 12 air hubs in other cities were expanded. Twenty railway stations and stations were modernised and reconstructed, said JLL. Also read: What do foreign tourists say about Russia when visiting 2018 FIFA World Cup?

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 17:54:00 +0300

Putin has nothing to say regarding pension reform in Russia

President Vladimir Putin has not released an official statement yet about his position on the issue of the pension reform in Russia. Putin's official spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that President Vladimir Putin's official position on the matter has not been formed yet. Peskov said that the president may take necessary amendments to the document or even veto it.Peskov also said that President Putin does not directly participate in the discussion of this issue. The bill remains under consideration at the government of Russia, before it goes for discussion at the State Duma. Putin receives daily updates about the discussion of the pension reform, Peskov added. The Russian government has decided that men will be able to retire when they turn 65, whereas women will have to turn 63. Presently, the retirement age in Russia is 55 years for women and 60 for men.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 15:09:00 +0300

Russians start protesting against retirement age law

The Russians start to express their protests against the recent decision of the Russian government to raise the retirement age. People start taking to the streets to say their words against the reform. The first wave of protest rallies swept through Novosibirsk, Ryazan and Ukhta, fontanka.ru reports. Rallies are expected to take place in a few Siberian citifies on June 24 and July 1, even though the rules for holding public meetings and rallies in Russia have been tightened for the time of the World Cup. Thus, all types of meetings not related to sports events should be held only in places indicated by local authorities in prior agreement with the Federal Security Service. On June 14, the Russian government approved the final version of the draft law on the gradual increase of the retirement age starting from 2019. Thus, the retirement age for men will be 65 years by 2028, and 63 years for women by 2034.The Russians immediately responded to the move by filing a petition on the Change.org website with a requirement to cancel the retirement age reform. The petition has already collected more than 1.3 million signatures. Vadim Gorshenin, the chairman of the board of directors of Pravda.Ru, believes that all the talking about the fairness of the pension reform is ridiculous, because the new law is all about the exploitation of citizens by the state. In a nutshell, Mr. Gorshenin believes, the state wants to make people work until they die. "Just look at the pension allowance that the state gives Russian citizens. Let's take a look at the pension starting from 2018. The average monthly pension of 14,100 rubles ($233) gives 169,200 rubles ($2,800). Thus, it will take a citizen, who budgets himself to the minimum monthly wage, seven years just to save this amount in accordance with deductions to the Pension Fund. If the state offers the average Russian man the amount of less than 169,200 rubles for all of his lifetime work, given the average life expectancy of 65.9 years, then a question arises of who the average Russian man needs to work for all of his life," Vadim Gorshenin notes. Interestingly, rumour has it that Chechnya is not going to raise the retirement age because of many years of war that the republic had experienced in the past. According to unconfirmed reports, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said that the people of Chechnya had been suffering for ten years, and every Chechen in the republic had either lost their breadwinner, become disabled or is a parent of many children. In the meantime, the Russian authorities are closely watching how the general public is going to react to the most recent unpopular move of the government.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 14:29:00 +0300

Russia demands USA should destroy chemical weapons and declassify Novichok files

Representatives of the Russian Embassy in the United States urged US authorities to declassify the data on the Novichok nerve agent and destroy the stockpile of chemical weapons in the United States. "Reveal US 'Novichok' files! Destroy your CW stockpiles!" a message posted on the official Twitter account of the Russian Embassy in the USA said. The message also referred to a couple of videos about the staged chemical attack in Syria's Douma. In January, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that the United States was delaying the destruction of its chemical arsenal.

Fri, 15 Jun 2018 14:18:00 +0300

Prime Minister Medvedev raises retirement age and VAT

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced the decision to raise the retirement age for men to 65 and for women - to 63 years, RBC reports."Despite the late start on this issue (raising the retirement age), we plan to introduce a fairly long transition period that is going to start from 2019 to step by step reach the retirement age of 65 years for men in 2028 and 63 years for women in 2034. This will give us an opportunity to send additional funds to increase pensions in excess of the inflation rate," Medvedev said. For most people who were preparing to retire in the near future, changes will be smooth, Medvedev said. "For example, men born in 1959 and women born in 1964 will be able to retire in 2020, respectively, at the age of 61 and 56. Men born in 1960 and women born in 1965 will receive the right to retire in 2022, respectively, at the age of 62 and 57. The younger generation still has plenty of time to adapt to new conditions," the prime minister said. Thus, the Russian government has decided that men will be able to retire when they turn 65, whereas women will have to turn 63. Presently, the retirement age in Russia is 55 years for women and 60 for men.In 2015, Russia set an absolute record of average life expectancy in the entire history of the country, including the Soviet era. The average life expectancy in Russia reached 71.4 years (for men - 65.9 years, for women - 76.7). In 2016, the average life expectancy in Russia raised by another 8.5 months and reached 72.1 years. In the first half of 2017, the average life expectancy made up 72.5 years - 67.5 years for men and 77.4 years for women. It is also proposed to consider an earlier retirement for people with a long record of service (40 years for women and 45 for men). They will be able to retire two years earlier. In addition, it is proposed to maintain current early retirement benefits for those who work in hazardous and dangerous environments, for women with five or more children, for people with disabilities, for those affected in the Chernobyl disaster and other categories that have social benefits. For those who work in special climatic conditions of the Far North, the retirement age will be 60 years for men and 58 years for women. Nothing is going to change for the already retired individuals. Medvedev also announced the decision to raise the value added tax in Russia to 20%. VAT benefits for socially significant goods and services will be preserved, he added. Russia's current VAT rate is 18%.

Thu, 14 Jun 2018 14:04:00 +0300

World Cup 2018: Major crisis to come out of the blue?

The World Cup is kicking off in Russia on June 14. The West has taken a number of attempts to make it fail, although to no avail. However, it is too early for Russia to relax and enjoy the world's biggest sports festival. It is worthy of note that the five-day war with Georgia and Maidan riots in Ukraine started on the eve of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and shortly before 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang took place against the backdrop of  massive anti-Russian hysteria over the use of doping in sports. Political scientist Leonid Krutakov said in an interview with Pravda.Ru that modern sport is a political phenomenon. The Ukrainian crisis began when Russia was shackled by the Winter Olympics. As soon as the Games ended, "green men" appeared in the Crimea. It is quite possible that something similar may start again this summer."Putin's tough warning to Ukraine about the loss of statehood may stop them. At the same time, though, Kiev proceeds from the national interests of the United States, rather than those of Ukraine. Therefore, if Washington gives Kiev a go-ahead, the Ukrainians will do as they are told," Leonid Krutakov said in an interview with Pravda.Ru.The expert believes that the anti-Russian hysteria is not going to subside during the World Cup 2018. At the same time, he added, a lot of people, who will come to Russia for football matches, will see that the country differs a lot from what Heather Nauert described as a squid with many tentacles.

Wed, 13 Jun 2018 16:46:00 +0300

Kremlin announces list of official World Cup guests

Putin's official spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced high-ranking foreign officials, who are going to attend the opening of the World Cup 2018 in Moscow on June 14.According to Peskov, the following guests of honour are going to visit: Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman;President of Abkhazia Raul Khajimba;President of Azerbaijan - Ilham Aliyev;President of Belarus - Alexander Lukashenko;President of Bolivia - Evo Morales;President of Kazakhstan - Nursultan Nazarbayev;President of Kyrgyzstan - Sooronbai Zheenbekov;President of Panama - Juan Carlos Varela;President of Tajikistan - Emomali Rahmon;President of Paraguay - Horacio Cartes;President of Rwanda - Paul Kagame;Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan;Chairman of the DPRK Parliament Kim En Nam. "These are only those whom President Putin will welcome tomorrow," Peskov specified.The leaders of other countries are expected to visit Russia during the World Cup 2018 too. Asked about a possibility of inviting US President Donald Trump, Peskov referred to Putin's invitation for all leaders to come to Russia. "Of course, this applies to top officials from the United States of America too," said Peskov.The World Cup 2018 will be held in eleven Russian cities from June 14 to July 15. At the opening match, the Russian team will play against Saudi Arabia.

Wed, 13 Jun 2018 15:00:00 +0300

Russian banks to suffer from major problems during upcoming 5 years

Russian banks have few opportunities to independently increase their capital without losing financial stability. The banks that can consistently generate capital make up only a fifth of their total amount. As many as 62.5% of Russian banks (46% of assets) have experienced difficulties at least once in increasing their capital during the recent three years, RBC reports.In connection with weak demand for credit resources associated with the expected sluggish economic growth in Russia, it will be largest state-run banks that will be able to make basic contributions to profitability and capital generation of the Russian banking sector before late 2021.The rehabilitation of Russia's largest credit institutions in 2017 entailed serious losses for the Russian banking sector - over 300 billion rubles as of 2017. Giant holes in Russian banks were found when it was already too late. Therefore, the rehabilitation of the Russian banking sector put the national banking system into a state of shock. Last year, the Bank of Russia undertook to reorganise three large Russian banks - Otkrytie, Binbank and Promsvyazbank.In 2017, Russian banks received a profit in the amount of 790 billion rubles. In early February, it was reported that the profit of the banking sector in 2018 was projected at 1.5 trillion rubles.

Wed, 13 Jun 2018 14:14:00 +0300

Putin speaks about possible successor and 'governors' glowing eyes'

During the recent Q&A conference, which took place on June 7, President Putin said that he did not have a successor in the traditional sense of the word. However, he added, he works for a "new, younger generation of managers to appear, who would be capable of taking responsibility for Russia."After the conference, a Russian journalist asked Putin whether he was taking about several newly appointed governors, and who deserved paying special attention to."One needs to pay special attention to those who works well, who found themselves in their position and corresponds to the high status of the leader of a subject of the Russian Federation. You have named several governors [the journalist named Alexei Dyumin, elected in 2016 by the governor of the Tula region, and Dmitry Mironov, who won the election of the governor of the Yaroslavl region in September 2017]. They obviously work well, but I'm absolutely convinced that it is not only them, but others, whom I have appointed, that work well too," Putin replied.The president noted that professionally prepared officials, who work hard to achieve their ultimate goals, are successful officials. "Their eyes are glowing, and I am very pleased about it," Putin added, promising to help newcomers in implementing their plans for the regional development. However, when asked whether Putin was looking for a successor, the president answered evasively. "Life will show who has the right to claim for something. In the long run, it is up to Russian citizens to decide," Putin said .In the autumn of 2017, President Putin held a series of resignations of governors, when the leaders of 19 Russian regions were replaced. Russia's next presidential election will be held in 2024. Under the current legislation, Putin will not be able to run for president again.

Sat, 09 Jun 2018 14:09:00 +0300

Should Russia return to G8?

US President Donald Trump said that Russia should return to the G8. According to Reuters, Trump would like Putin to personally attend the G7 summit. Commenting on Trump's statement, Putin's official spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia was putting emphasis on other formats. Should Russia be happy about Donald Trump's invitation to go back to G7? One needs to bear in mind the fact that executive power in the USA is powerless if the legislative power was the first one to speak. Suffice it to recall the infamous CATSA act, which Congress approved and president then signed. Why did Trump say that Russia needs to be reinstated at the G7? First of all, the USA wants to play on Canada's nerves after the latter dared to respond to US duties. Secondly, the US president can put his European allies into an uncomfortable position, after the latter admitted that they would turn to Russia if the US continued pressing them with its protectionist policy. The Group of Seven is a product of the past. This is a legacy of a certain period, when the West tried to integrate Russia into its structure and make the country accept Western (European) rules. The plan didn't work, and Russia does not need to go there again. You can't unscramble scrambled eggs. The US may also try to stop Russia from its rapprochement with China. China is not a G7 member. Preserving Russia's alienation from the Western format of cooperation is another argument in favor of Russia's turn to the East. After all, USA's prime rival today is China, rather than Russia, Iran or the DPRK.

Fri, 08 Jun 2018 17:47:00 +0300

Putin speaks about God and warns Ukraine

Writer Zakhar Prilepin, who serves as adviser to the head of the breakaway People's Republic of Donetsk, Alexander Zakharchenko, asked Putin about the possibility for the Ukrainian crisis to aggravate during the World Cup in Russia. Answering questions during his annual Q&A session, Putin said that Kiev will have to deal with most serious consequences should the crisis in the Donbass aggravate. According to him, the people of the two breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk will not tolerate this. In addition, the Russian president said that an aggravation of the crisis in the Donbass may pose a threat to Ukrainian statehood. Putin believes that the Ukrainian authorities do not intend to solve the problem, because "they do not need voters from the self-proclaimed republics, who will never vote for those who started the conflict.

Thu, 07 Jun 2018 15:47:00 +0300

In World War Three, mankind will cease to exist - Putin

Answering the question during his annual Q&A session, about the time when the West is going to lift its sanctions from Russia, President Putin said that the West wants to blame Russia for everything. "It gives me the feeling that Russia is to blame for everything, there is a feeling that they do not hear any arguments," he said. The West imposed sanctions on Russia, because Western countries see Russia as a threat and a rival: "This is an erroneous policy. One should not restrain Russia, but establish normal cooperation. This will show a positive influence on the world economy, and the understanding of this gradually comes."

Thu, 07 Jun 2018 14:44:00 +0300

Russian economy grows steadily – Putin

The Russian economy has entered the phase of sustainable growth, which gives every reason to believe that "we are moving in the right direction," President Vladimir Putin stated at the beginning of his annual Q&A conference with Russian citizens. The Russian economy has been growing steadily in 2017 and in early 2018, he added. "This is modest growth. The growth is insignificant, but this is not a decline," he said adding that the Russian economy demonstrated the growth of 1.5% over the past year.

Thu, 07 Jun 2018 14:12:00 +0300

Russia to close its borders for Russophobes

Russia's Ministry for Foreign Affairs believes that "extremely Russophobic political and public figures from Estonia" should be banned from entering the territory of the Russian Federation.Unfortunately, the ministry has not given any names, but it was said that details of the restrictive measures had been delivered to the Estonian Ambassador. The move comes in response to Estonia's recent decision to impose restrictive measures on persons from the so-called Magnitsky list.Artyom Kozhin, a spokesman for Russia's Ministry for Foreign Affairs, said that Moscow found such actions as a proof of the anti-Russian course in Estonia's policies. Estonia passed the "Magnitsky law" in December of 2016. However, the Estonian authorities had not tried to impose any sanctions against the people from the list until the spring of 2018. On March 29, the Estonian government banned the entry of 49 Russians from the Magnitsky list.The "Magnitsky law" was adopted in the USA, the UK, Canada and Lithuania. The countries that have passed such a law can deny entry to their territories for people who committed serious or particularly serious crimes against person, violated rights and freedoms of others, or were convicted of corruption or money laundering. As a rule, people are not notified if their names appear on Magnitsky list. The original Magnitsky list contained 60 names, but the amount of people on the list is changing all the time.

Wed, 06 Jun 2018 16:51:00 +0300

Putin's interview for Austrian television: Tough answers to most provocative questions

On the eve of his first visit to Austria, Vladimir Putin gave a lengthy interview to Austrian television channel ORF.The interviewer, Armin Wolf, was interested not only in issues of Russia's foreign policy, but also in domestic political plans of Vladimir Putin harbours. It is worthy of note that, as the Austrian journalist said, there were no prohibitions from the Kremlin concerning the topics of the interview. Armin Wolf was least interested in details of the possible mutually beneficial cooperation between Moscow and Vienna, although this was the reasons for the interview to take place. Contrary to the general trend set by the United States, Austria did not expel Russian diplomats in connection with the so-called "Skripal case.""Austria and Russia have long had very good and deep relationship. Austria is our traditional and reliable partner in Europe. Despite all the difficulties of previous years, with Austria, we have never interrupted our dialogue in politics, security and economy," Putin said, adding that the two countries have many common interests.However, Wolf wanted to find out why the Russian administration was working closely with Austrian nationalist parties that are critical of the European Union. The question contained an allusion to Russia's alleged intention to split the European Union. Putin had to patiently explain obvious things to the Austrian reporter:"We have no goal to divide anything in the European Union, we are interested in the prosperous EU, because the European Union is our largest trade and economic partner, and the more problems the European Union has, the more risks and uncertainties we have to deal with," Putin said. Of course, the Austrian journalist could not but ask Putin about "Russia's interference" in the presidential election in the United States. The journalist asked the Russian president about activities of the Internet Research Agency, aka the "troll factory", which is associated with Russian entrepreneur Yevgeny Prigozhin. The journalist persistently tried to get Vladimir Putin to confirm the thesis that the man who is commonly referred to as the "chef" because of his restaurant business, could influence the elections in the US, because he had very close ties with the Russian government. Putin had this to say in response to this question: "There is such a person in the United States, Mr. Soros, who interferes in all affairs throughout the world, and I often hear our American friends saying that America has nothing to do with it as a state. Rumour has it that Mr. Soros wants to shake the euro, the European currency, and this is already being discussed in expert circles. Ask the US State Department why he wants to do it. You will be told that the US State Department has nothing to do with it as this is a personal matter of Mr. George Soros. Here, we can say that this is a personal matter of Mr. Prigozhin. This is my answer to you. Are you satisfied with this answer?"Putin did not give a direct answer to the question of why he has not been able to have a meeting with his US counterpart Donald Trump lately. "The pre-election campaign for the Congress is getting started, and the presidential election is not too far away, attacks on the President of the United States continue in different directions. I think that this is the first thing," the Russian leader said explaining the reason why he has not been able to meet Donald Trump lately. Armin Wolf asked a question about the possibility of a nuclear war between the United States and North Korea. According to Vladimir Putin, "this is a terrible assumption," because the DPRK is a close neighbour of Russia, and one of Pyongyang's nuclear test sites is only 190 kilometres from the Russian border."We are pinning great hopes on a personal meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, because mutual claims have gone too far," Putin said.Putin had to answer biased questions about the relations between Russia and Ukraine. He tried to explain Russia's position in detail, but the Austrian journalist tried to take the conversation in another direction.For example, speaking about the MH17 disaster, Armin Wolf dogmatically stated that the passenger plane was shot down with a missile of Russian origin and assumed that it was about time Russia should admit that officially. "If you have some patience and listen to me, then you will know my point of view on this issue, okay?" Putin replied, adding that, firstly, Ukraine has Soviet-made weapons and, secondly, Russia is not allowed to access the materials of the investigation, even though Ukraine can access it. The journalist continued by saying that "everyone already knows where the missile came from." Putin responded: "Malaysian officials have recently stated that they did not see Russia's involvement in the terrible tragedy. They said that they had no evidence to prove it. Don't you know about this?"Armin Wolf continued with a question about Russia's alleged military interference in the Crimean events from 2014."Russian army units have always been present in the Crimea. Do you want to just ask questions all the time or do you want to hear my answers? The first thing that we did when events in Ukraine began...but what kind of events were they? I will now say, and you will tell me yes or no. It was an armed coup and seizure of power. Yes or no, can you tell me?"The journalist mumbled that he was no expert on the subject of the Ukrainian constitution. Explaining how the Crimean peninsula escaped from Ukraine's rampant nationalism and reunited with Russia, Vladimir Putin switched to German in an attempt to convey his message to the Austrian journalist. "What should happen so Russia returns the Crimea to Ukraine?" the journalist asked."There are no such conditions and there cannot be. You have interrupted me yet again. If you had let me finish, you would have understood my point. When the unconstitutional armed coup took place in Ukraine, when power was seized by force, our army units were deployed in Ukraine on legal grounds - there was a Russian army base there. There was no one else there. But there were our armed forces there."The journalist was ready to interrupt Putin again, so the president had to say: "Seien Sie so nett, lassen Sie mich etwas sagen." ["Will you please be so kind and let me proceed."]. Then he continued:"When the spiral of unconstitutional actions in Ukraine started twisting, when the people in the Crimea started sensing danger, when whole trains of nationalists started arriving there, when they  started blocking buses and automotive transport, the people wanted to defend themselves. The first thing that came to mind was to restore their rights that had been received within the framework of Ukraine, when the Crimea was granted autonomy. This is what kicked everything off, and the parliament started working on the process to determine its independence on Ukraine. Is this strictly prohibited by the Charter of the United Nations? No. The right of nations to self-determination is clearly stated there," Putin said."The annexation of the Crimea was the first incident, when a country in Europe annexed a part of another country against its will, which was perceived as a threat to neighbouring states," the journalist interrupted Putin."You know, if you do not like my answers, then you do not ask any questions, but if you want to get my opinion on questions, then you have to be patient," Putin said. "The Crimea gained its independence as a result of the will of the Crimeans in an open referendum, rather than as a result of the invasion of Russian troops. You are talking about annexation, but do you call annexation a referendum held by the people living on this territory? In this case, one should call Kosovo's self-identification an act of annexation too," Putin said. Wolf tried to develop the Crimean question by drawing a parallel with events in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.Putin replied: "Yes, Al-Qaeda's radical groups did want to alienate those territories from the Russian Federation and form their caliphate from the Black to the Caspian Sea. I do not think that Austria and Europe would have been happy about it. Yet, the Chechen people themselves came to an entirely different conclusion in the elections, and the Chechen people signed an agreement with the Russian Federation."When talking about Syria, the journalist claimed that Russia was defending a regime that was using chemical weapons against its people."You said that everyone proved that Assad had used chemical weapons. Yet, our specialists say the opposite, and it goes about the Douma incident, which was used to strike a missile blow on Syria after it was assumed that there were chemical weapons used in the city of Douma," Putin said adding that the OPCW was invited to investigate those events."Instead of waiting for one or two days and giving the OPCW an opportunity to work on the spot, a missile attack was conducted. Please tell me: is this the best way to resolve a question of objectivity of what was happening there? In my opinion, it was an attempt to create conditions that wold make investigation impossible," Putin said. As for Russian domestic affairs, the Austrian reporter asked only a couple of questions about low salaries and the number of the poor."Since 2012, Russia has gone through a number of very difficult challenges in its economy. That was not only because of so-called sanctions and restrictions, but also because prices on Russian traditional export goods had halved. It affected Russia's GDP budget revenues, and ultimately, people's incomes. Yet, we have preserved and strengthened the macroeconomic stability in the country," Putin said. Armin Wolf also asked Putin about his plans for the future, as well as about the Russian opposition. "Some say that you have turned the country into an authoritarian system, in which you are the czar. Is this true?" the journalist asked."No, this is not true, because we have a democratic state, and we all live within the framework of the current Constitution. Our Constitution says that a president can be elected for two consecutive terms. After two legitimate terms of my presidency I left this post, did not change the Constitution and moved to another job, where I served as the prime minister. Afterwards, I returned in 2012 and won the election again," said Putin.The Austrian journalist was very interested why opposition activist Alexei Navalny could not participate in the elections. Wolff also wanted to know why Putin prefers not to call the blogger's name in public."We have a lot of rebels, just like you, just like the United States," Putin replied. "We do not want to have another, second, third or fifth Saakashvili, the former President of Georgia. We do not want people like Saakashvili on our political scene. Russia needs those who bring positive agenda, who know, and not just designate problems, and we enough of them, just like you have in Austria, just like in any other country," Putin added. Wolf continued insisting that Navalny was not given an opportunity to run, and people could not even take a look at the candidate. "Voters can look at any person they want because the Internet is free for us. No one shut him away. The media is free. People can always go out and say something out loud, and this is what various political figures do. If a person acquires some sort of electors' support, then he becomes a figure which the state must communicate and negotiate with. Yet, if their level of confidence is 0,01, 0,02, 0,03 percent, then what can we talk about? This is just another Saakashvili. Why do we need such clowns?" Putin said. "My presidential term has just begun, it's only a start, so let's not put the cart before the horse. I've never violated the Constitution of my country and I'm not going to do that," the president said answering a question about his plans for the future. At the end of the interview, the journalist asked Putin a very unusual question that, as it seems, no one has ever asked the Russian president before. The question was about Putin's so-called "alpha male photos," on which he posed semi-naked. According to the journalists, it is unusual for a head of state to publish such photos for the general public."Well, thank God, you said semi-naked, and not naked. If I'm having a holiday, I do not think I should hide in the bushes, there's nothing bad about it," Putin said. Later, Armin Wolf shared his impressions of the interview with the Russian president. He said that the Russian president was a very artful and complex interlocutor. Wolf added that he was impressed with Putin's quiet voice most. "As a matter of fact, my expectations were justified. Judging from what we see on television, Vladimir Putin is not very tall, I knew it, we all know what he looks like, but there's a thing that really struck me. He has a rather sonorous voice, but he speaks very quietly, especially before and after the interview, and even quieter when he speaks German. You have to concentrate a lot to understand him, because he has a very quiet voice. This struck me most in such a powerful man," said the journalist.

Tue, 05 Jun 2018 19:08:00 +0300

Putin explains why he does not meet Donald Trump

Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that he has not been able to have a meeting with US counterpart Donald Trump because of the bitter domestic political struggle inside the United States. In an interview with Austrian ORF TV channel on the eve of his official visit to Vienna, Putin said: "One should ask this question to our colleagues from the United States. In my opinion, this is the result of the bitter domestic political struggle inside the United States," Putin said answering a question about reasons for the absence of personal meetings between Putin and Trump.Putin also said that during recent discussions, Trump expressed concerns about the threat of a new arms race. Putin said that he fully agreed with Trump regarding the issue, RBC reports.According to journalist Armin Wolf, who interviewed Putin, the questions to the Russian president  had not been agreed with the Kremlin in advance. There were no prohibitions on the topics either. The interview laster for about an hour instead of 30 minutes, Kurier reports.Trump and Putin first met on July 7, 2017 on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. The conversation lasted for two hours and 15 minutes. The presidents met for the second time during the APEC summit in Danang (Vietnam). In November, they shook hands during the official photo shoot. Kremlin officials admitted that they had tried to arrange a full-scale meeting, although to no avail. Putin's official spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Americans put forward unexpected requirements and showed no flexibility. Most recently, it was said that the White House was planning a meeting between the two presidents, but the US administration was focused on the summit in Singapore, where Donald Trump is to have a meeting with DPRK leader Kim Jong-un.

Mon, 04 Jun 2018 18:27:00 +0300

Putin signs law on counter sanctions against USA and other unfriendly states

Russian President Putin signed the law "On countermeasures to unfriendly actions of the USA and other foreign states."The law stipulates for the introduction of countersanctions in response to unfriendly moves by the US and other countries, including those expressed in the introduction of political or economic sanctions against the Russian Federation. Measures can be applied to states, organisations under their jurisdiction, as well as officials and citizens.As measures of influence (counteraction), Russia may resort to such actions as termination of cooperation between the Russian Federation and foreign states and their organisations, imposing prohibitions or restrictions on imports of raw materials or products from unfriendly countries to Russia (the list of unfriendly counters is to be determined by the government of the Russian Federation), and other measures.At the same time, the law says that counter sanctions shall not be imposed on vital goods, the equivalents of which the Russian Federation does not produce. The State Duma passed the draft law on counter-sanctions in the third reading on May 22. In the original version, the draft law empowered the Russian government to introduce a number of measures, both economic and political ones to eliminate consequences of unfriendly acts of the United States. It was proposed to ban imports of medications, alcohol and tobacco, as well as agricultural products and manufactured goods, technological equipment and software. During the second reading, the list of possible countermeasures was reduced from 16 to 6.

Mon, 04 Jun 2018 17:57:00 +0300

Gasoline prices in Russia: Free like a bird after elections

Prices on gasoline in Russia are going crazy again. This is amazing: no matter how oil prices would fluctuate, prices on gasoline always rise for Russian customers. In May 2018, gasoline prices went up by one ruble in only one week. It's not the rules of the WTO or a market economy - someone just gave a go-ahead from the top: the elections are over, and now is the time for unpopular decisions.On May 21-25, retail prices for gasoline AI-92 and AI-95 increased by seven percent in Russia. Vadim Novikov, member of the expert council for the development of competition under the Government of the Russian Federation, told Pravda.Ru that the budget of the country takes advantage of high oil prices.If oil prices grow, gasoline prices should go up again, and the government has no reason to interfere in this market situation, the expert said. "It is not only market sellers that compete, but also ordinary buyers. Accordingly, Russian buyers compete with foreign buyers. As practice shows, conditions of certain equivalence appear so that sellers could deal with all groups of buyers - everyone should give equivalent bids," Vadim Novikov told Pravda.Ru. "Russia can close borders, and then the Russian market will never be linked with the foreign market, but then Russia will lose export revenues, which currently make the backbone of the Russian budget," the expert concluded.Why not try and do that? Is there a market in Russia at all? Gasoline prices were rock stable prior to the presidential election. However, as soon as the new government was formed, the situation changed dramatically. Before the elections, the volumes of oil products that would be sold at exchange made up 50-60 thousand tons daily. This volume would reduce the growth of wholesale prices and, accordingly, retail ones. Currently, they sell 10-12 thousand tons, which pushed wholesale prices up by 12 percent in a month and by 30 percent over the past week. It is hard to tell who gives a go-ahead for the change in sales, but there is someone, of course.In other words, the Russian economy is a directive economy in the worst sense of the word, because it ensures political victories. Capitalists of a smaller rank take advantage of it too. The cost of gasoline should not greatly affect the growth of prices on food, electricity, etc., but it does - with a profit margin of 100-200 percent, which triggers inflation. The boomerang returns with, among other things, lower excises that go for road maintenance.As a result, it is common people, common Russian taxpayers and customers, who pay for all this. They will have to work more to be able to retire and they will have to compensate for the price growth through a higher value added tax. Is the new old government going to do anything about it? Read article in Russian 

Wed, 30 May 2018 16:16:00 +0300

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